Dome (side), Chapel of St. Barbara, Chapel 20
Original Country
Sorting Title
Dome (side), Chapel of St. Barbara, Chapel 20

Dome, ceiling, and side of church decorated with geometric patterns

Creation Date
Style Genre
Work Type
Format Medium

A thin coat of slaked lime was applied to the smoothed rock. On this the painting was done in red ochre.

Original Location

Church of St. Barbara, Chapel 20, Göreme, Cappadocia

Specific Location

Cross arm

Historical Context

Chapel 20 was carved on the south side of the Elmali; Chapel (Chapel 19). The chapel has a cruciform plan with a dome resting on two columns (on the east side of the chapel) instead of four. The north, south, and west arms of the cruciform are barrel vaulted and the center, the east arm, and the east corners are domed. There is a main central apse and two side apses on the east side of the chapel. To the south, the narthex (now collapsed) preceded the church. The three raised apses were accessible by two steps and they followed a semi-circular plan. A high templon screen closed off the central apse, but now only two chancel screens remain. These chancel screens frame the entrance to the central apse. These simple chancels limit the apsidiole. In each apse an altar was placed against the wall and a seat was placed in the southwest corner. In the central apse, a small niche has been dug into the north side of the wall.

Traditionally, Chapel 20 was named for Saint Barbara, although its original dedication remains unknown. According to 10th century legend, ascribed to Metaphrastes, Barbara was set up in a tower and killed by her father because of her Christian faith. He was punished by being struck by lightning. Barbara’s martyrdom was believed to have taken place in Nicomedia, modern Izmit, during the rule of Maximinus Thrax. She was the patron saint of architects, artillery men, stonemasons and grave diggers.

Current Repository

Open-air Museum of Göreme (Outside of Göreme Center on the road to Üçhisar)

Secondary Sources

Cave monasteries of Byzantine Cappadocia, Byzantine wall painting in Asia Minor, Les églises byzantines de Cappadoce : le programme iconographique de l’abside et de ses abords, Etudes cappadociennes, Sacred art of Cappadocia : Byzantine murals from the 6th to 13th centuries, Les saints et leur sanctuaire à byzance : textes, images et monuments, La Cappadoce médiévale : images et spiritualité, Caves of God : Cappadocia and its churches, Caves of God: the monastic environment of Byzantine Cappadocia, Spätbyzantinische Wandmalerei in den Höhlenkirchen Kappadokiens in der Türkei, The Byzantine wall paintings of Kiliçlar Kilise : aspects of monumental decoration in Cappadocia, Byzantinische Apsisnebenräume : Untersuchung zur Funktion der Apsisnebenräume in den Höhlenkirchen Kappadokiens und in den mittelbyzantinischen Kirchen Konstantinopels, Templonanlagen in den Höhlenkirchen Kappadokiens, The liturgical planning of Byzantine churches in Cappadocia, Kapadokya kaya kiliselerinde üç gün, Upper-Story Chapels Near the Sanctuary in Churches of the Christian East,
The Problem of Provincialism: Byzantine Monasteries in Cappadocia and Monks in South Italy, Survey of the Byzantine Settlement at Çanh Kilise in Cappadocia: Results of the 1995 and 1996 Seasons, Middle and Later Byzantine Wall Painting Methods. A Comparative Study, Apostolic Monasticism at Tokalı Kilise in Cappadocia, Haut Moyen-Age en Cappadoce, Une nouvelle province de l’art byzantin : les églises rupestres de Cappadoce, Les Femmes et le monachisme byzantin : actes du symposium d’Athènes, 28-29 mars 1988 = Women and byzantine monasticism : proceedings of the Athens symposium, 28-29 March 1988, Painted Sources for Female Piety in Medieval Byzantium

Photo Credit
Candace Weddle
Dina Boero
Image of Dome (side), Chapel of St. Barbara, Chapel 20.